By Cheryl Blackerby
The Palm Beach County chapter of the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association gave 23 Boca Raton condominium associations awards for making their lighting more efficient and turtle-friendly.
The awards were presented at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center’s Sea Turtle Day Festival on March 1 in Boca Raton.
“We’ve noticed an increase in people asking us what they should do about lighting,” said Kirt Rusenko, marine conservationist at Gumbo Limbo. “We tell them to use full-cutoff light fixtures, which put the light on the ground where you need it, not shining up into the sky.”
The associations and homeowners who change lighting notice immediate benefits, he said.
“You usually save roughly 60 percent on the electric bill when you use these fixtures. And condo members say they notice the decks and pools are brighter, making them safer, even though the buildings are darker,” he said.
With full-cutoff lighting, nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings safely find their way back to the ocean, guided by reflected star and moonlight instead of the bright lights of condo buildings.
Rusenko and IDA are encouraging cities and inland residents, as well as coastal homeowners, to use full-cutoff lights to stop “sky glow,” the light that looks like an orange smog at night over cities.
In Florida, excessive lighting disrupts the biological cycles of wildlife. “Light pollution” can drive sea turtles from nesting on the beaches, chase fish away from the shoreline and interfere with the mating habits of frogs.
The Council of Science and Public Health reports studies that show nighttime artificial lighting adversely affects humans, too. It disrupts circadian biological rhythms that can increase cancer risks and some chronic diseases, and even contribute to obesity.
If homeowners would cut down on the amount of light used at night, less money would be wasted by governments, businesses and homeowners, and more nocturnal animals would be able to live their lives as nature intended, said Rusenko.
He tells Florida residents to look for Dark-Sky approved lighting at all Lowe’s and most Home Depot stores.
For more information about the South Florida chapter of International Dark-Sky Association: idasouthflorida.org
Turtle-friendly lighting won these condos awards:
Yacht and Racquet Club
Ocean Reef Towers
Boca Beach Club and Condo
Cloister del Mar
Cloister Beach Towers